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America East Semifinals Recap

March 9, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

America East Semifinals Recap

Recap by Adam Reich

No. 4 Maine 78, No. 8 Stony Brook 54
The Black Bears utilized an 18-7 run early in the second half to dismiss the upset-minded Seawolves and win 78-54, advancing to the America East championship game for the second time in three years.

With Maine maintaining a nine-point lead early in the second half, Kevin Reed scored seven straight points to extend Maine’s lead to 46-30 with 13:10 to go in the game. Reed went the length of the court for a lay-up, followed it up with a three and the scored on another drive forcing Stony Brook to call a timeout. The Black Bears continued the assault as a three-pointer by Ludmil Hadjisotirov pushed the lead up to twenty at 57-37 with 9:00 remaining.

The closest Stony Brook would get the rest of the way was fourteen points (60-44). The inside muscle and accurate long-range shooting of the Black Bears simply proved too much for the Seawolves, who were playing their third game in as many days.

Five minutes into the game Maine, sparked by a pair of Reed three-pointers, had a 13-0 lead. Stony Brook opened the game 0-for-6, with star guard D.J. Munir missing all four of his attempts in that span. A Cori Spencer hoop at 14:28 finally stopped the bleeding. Spencer’s basket initiated a 16-2 run that gave the Seawolves a 16-15 lead with 7:00 to play in the first half.

But after Stony Brook claimed its first lead the Black Bear answered right back with an 11-4 run that gave them a 26-20 advantage with 3:58 remaining. The two teams traded baskets in the final minutes of the half before Freddy Petkus (7 first-half points) banked home a fifteen-footer to give Maine a 32-24 lead heading into the locker room.

The Seawolves were very fortunate to be trailing by eight at the half as Munir made only 1-of-9 shots and the team went 9-for-28 (32.1%). Spencer was the saving grace as he scored twelve first-half points on 5-of-8 shooting. For Maine, Reed and Hadjisotirov each tallied eight points in the opening stanza.

Reed led all scorers with seventeen points on 7-of-14 shooting. Eric Dobson played another stellar all-around game tallying eleven points, seven rebounds and a game-high eight assists. Spencer led the Seawolves with fourteen points while Munir, playing in what was his final collegiate game, struggled, shooting only 3-of-16 and finishing with six points.

No. 2 Vermont 61, No. 6 Hartford 48
The Vermont crowd said it all.

With a timeout on the floor and 55 seconds left on the clock the Catamount faithful began to chant “Patrick Gym”, referring to the site of this season’ s America East Tournament Championship game after Vermont defeated Hartford, 61-48, in the second semifinal played at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena.

Vermont utilized a pair of big runs in the second half to overcome a slow start. The Catamounts scored the first eleven points after halftime to grab a 38-28 lead. Vermont wasn’t so much on fire after intermission, but rather the Hawks who couldn’t buy a basket. Hartford went scoreless for the first 9:10 of the second half, missing their first ten shots as a team before an Aaron Cook lay-in ended the drought.

The game continued to see-saw as Cook buried a pair of three-pointers, the second of which brought the Hartford faithful to their feet, to pull the Hawks within five at 46-41 with 7:13 remaining. But almost as expected, Vermont answered with a run of its own. Again the Catamounts reeled off eleven straight points, this time building the lead to sixteen, 57-41. During that stretch the Hawks went scoreless for another 5:56 before Ryan Stys netted a jumper that, although inconsequential in the outcome of the game, ended the Hartford drought.

Instead of falling behind early like they did the night before against Northeastern, the Hawks came out smoking, as they opened up a 10-5 lead after a pair of treys from Stys and Charles Ford. An Alex Zimnickas hoop down low gave Hartford a 14-7 lead with 10:30 to play in the half. Ford then drilled a three from the corner to extend the lead to eight at 19-11. For Vermont, Germain Njila (12 first-half pts) scored eight quick points to keep the Catamounts within striking distance, but with the rest of the team struggling (0-for-8), UVM was fortunate to only be down eight.

But in the blink of an eye the Catamount fans were in a frenzy as an Alex Jensen three from the corner and then a 25-foot bomb from Sorrentine, capping a 10-2 run, tied the game, 21-21, with 3:43 to play in the first half. A minute later, a steal and length of the court dash and lay-in from Sorrentine gave the Catamount their first lead of the game. But when Cook drained a three-pointer from the right wing with ten seconds remaining, the Hawks took a 28-27 lead into the locker room.

Ford was the catalyst for the Hawks in the first half. The sophomore guard, who is averaging only 8.8 ppg, tallied eleven first-half points, including a pair of big threes that each quieted a Vermont run. The Catamounts trailed by only one point, despite making two of twelve from beyond the arc in the opening half.

For the Catamounts, Sorrentine finished with a game-high eighteen points, while Njila added fourteen and David Hehn chipped in twelve. Cook led all Hartford scorers with seventeen points, including four three-pointers.

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